Though still young, ODESZA are well on their way to conquering the electronic scene
Wave after wave of ethereal melodies backed by thundering bass and layers of tribal percussion are molded from the four hands of ODESZA. Sonic influences stem from hip-hop instrumentals to ambient music, but mainly psychedelic, textured electronic such as the likes of M83, Emancipator, Animal Collective and Tycho.
ODESZA consists of Harrison Mills (aka CatacombKid) and Clayton Knight (aka BeachesBeaches), who met in college. “We didn’t really know about each other but we were kind of the only people making weird electronic music out there, where funk, indie, and punk music were the big things on the scene where I went. We got introduced through a musical friend, we swapped music back and forth, and then got some studio time which was basically us hanging out in my basement.”
Since the release of their first album Summer’s Gone and a number of bustling world tours, ODESZA has released two more albums, My Friends Never Die and In Return, with numerous singles reaching the number one spot on music aggregator Hype Machine. They are currently in the middle of a world tour in which they have sold out over half of their shows.
They’ve also just recently started their own label called Foreign Family Collective, an outlet for musicians as well as visual artists. “It’s been a project of Harris’ and mine for a long time but we’ve only recently had the means to pull it off. Right now it’s a label that we’ve put together to give artists the chance to share their music with a larger audience. We’re only doing singles right now but hopefully we can go past that in the future.”
ODESZA can relate with many of the smaller artists and bands out there, waiting to be heard and discovered. “There’s so much talent out there, especially in the production world and a lot of it just gets swept under the rug because there’s so much going on, so we try and give light to these artists and producers. Recently we’ve had a couple do really well. Kasbo is on tour with us right now and he has a killer single. But yeah it’s just kind of weird electronic, it’s an outlet for art that we think deserves a little more push.”
In only three years, the duo have defied the odds and accomplished more than many do in their entire careers. When asked what truly defines ODESZA, Knight modestly answers, “two dudes who like electronic music, hanging out and trying to do some cool things.”
What really makes an artist is not what appears at first glance but the lasting value of their content, which can only be found when one takes the time to explore the sonic landscape they’ve created. Bringing us to the heart of the world of ODESZA, Knight describes the basic process of how their sound comes together in the creation and structuring of a song. “We’re big fans of layering stuff. We usually start by writing everything in really simple instrumentation. I’m a piano player so I write basically everything on piano.”
Knight and Mills also introduce other instruments into the mix to grant the material more variety and mood. “We’ll do piano roots, then layer it with some weird instrumentation, or noise basically, to give it some more texture and feel. For percussion, we take a standard snare and then we layer stuff on top of it and to get a pretty unique substance.”
In describing their colour and tonality, Knight is upfront about their influences. “We’re big fans of tribal music and world music, so a lot of our drum stuff would fall under that. We love those kind of eastern sounds and just kind of all over the place percussive elements, and the weirder it is the cooler it sounds. But the harmonies and chord progressions are based in a pop element. That’s what kind of gives it its pop feel: the pretty simple chord progressions and pretty melodies. But then you put it with weirder instrumentation and it becomes a sound that’s pretty unique.”
Where the sounds of ODESZA really come to life though is at their shows. This is where immersion becomes paramount, from the rattling bass shaking the ground and the melodies seamlessly flowing, to the lights and visuals that add another dimension to the whole experience. What makes ODESZA’s live shows unique however is their use of live instrumentation. “We love incorporating live elements into the electronic music scene. We’ve upped our production quite a bit. Our visuals are pretty awesome. We’ll have two horn players and a guitar player. We blend live instrumentation with electronic elements to give a wide pallet of sound.”
ODESZA blends together experimentation and intricate electronica to create a warm, dream-like landscape brimming with life and waiting to be explored. Though the duo are just getting started, their collaborations have already ushered a unique and wonderful voice to the electronic music scene, one that will not easily go unnoticed.
Catch ODESZA at L’Olympia on Nov. 18 at 7 PM, assuming you got your tickets already; the show is sold out.